CHS COVID-19 Updates

Updates from John Fink

May 29, 2020

Dear Carmel High School Family –

This eleventh week of school was a short week – literally and figuratively, at least in our house.  These past four days blew by like a racecar on a dragstrip.  I hope that all of our Carmel families have remained well, safe, and positive. 

It was amazing to see kids in the building this week; though sadly it was to collect their belongings.  It was incredibly difficult not to hug them (I’m a hugger), or high-five them (yeah, I’m that guy as well).  And I found myself apologizing to them - it was brutal.                 

Through these past few weeks I’ve shared glimpses of who I am, and what my life and world has been like through this pandemic.  Many of you have been kind enough to also share your world with me.  Thank you. 

Due to the shortness of this week, I found myself (once again) at a panic point.  Not sure about you.  It felt as if the ebb and flow of the tide was ebbing against me. 

I’ve mentioned “keeping up with the Jones (or Kardashians)” before, and I had a similar experience again this week. 

I believe that competition is good on several levels.  It provides many valuable lessons, though of course, there are some downsides.  I don’t like to focus on competition between individuals, or groups, but rather on self-competition.  I often find myself competing against myself in both healthy and unhealthy ways.  Ironically, both have allowed me to grow.

On my healthy side, I set target goals for each week.  These are the tasks that I have to complete.  Theses are the non-negotiables – both job and home related.  I thoroughly enjoy these challenges and push myself to complete them at my highest level.  Often, I put an unhealthy amount of pressure on myself to be as close to perfection as possible.  When I fall short of these goals, my guilt is strong and my feelings of lacking integrity are high.  Particularly if I feel I let people down.    

On my unhealthy side, I add extra target goals.  These wants can be self-serving and help fulfill a sense of accomplishment for my ego.  However, allowing the self-serving ego driven goals to get in the way of the necessary target goals can create a toxic environment – internally and externally.  The feelings when these ancillary target goals are met create a euphoria for me, but sometimes at the expense of others.  Or at the very least, without considering the needs of others.  Promoting one’s ego at the expense of others has far deeper ramifications that I do not always have the foresight or good sense to consider. 

To me the answer is obvious –a healthy balance of competition and completion fulfills both individual needs and the needs of others.  And it is imperative to do so in a compassionate and purposeful manner.  Surely easier said than done.  I will continue to push myself to be better; more caring, more compassionate, and to have integrity that serves others.  As I see it, we are always a work in progress.                        

I don’t know about you, but my family and I are looking forward to summer.  The recent nice weather and being outside has been a treat. I believe it is a signal of great things to come.

Please stay safe.  Please stay calm.  Please stay positive.

John Fink  


May 22, 2020

Dear Carmel High School Family –

As we prepare for a long three-day weekend and end our 10th week of school closures, I hope this letter finds you safe, well, and motivated.  And it’s nice to see the weather has turned and we have some beautiful sunshine around.

This Monday is Memorial Day, and is celebrated as the unofficial start of summer.  More importantly, Memorial Day is also a United States federal holiday, commemorating those who have died in military service to our country.  We honor these men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us and our freedoms. 

In previous messages I spoke about planning and preparation, about taking control of a situation in order to gain control of our lives when so many things are uncertain.  Well… I delivered on my message, that’s for sure. 

For a long time now, my wife and I have wanted to renovate a bathroom in our house.  The bathroom was perfectly fine and working; just a bit outdated.  So, last weekend we seized the opportunity and gutted it.  Yup, that’s right, tore it all out!  Sink – gone.  Toilet – gone.  Shower – gone.  Walls, moldings, tile floor – gone, gone, gone.  There’s no turning back now.  Please note, while I am handy (weekend warrior at best), I’m no Handy Manny, Bob the Builder, or Tim “The Toolman” Taylor.  So here we stand – wife, boys, pups, and I – staring at a skeleton of a room, our minds are flooded with ideas.  Our wallet is cringing with each thought however.  

We do have a plan; though a rough one at best.  And the decision is to work on the bathroom over the course of time – no rush, just get it right.  Also, when funds become available, we will be able to push further ahead.  Just like in The Wizard of Oz, “It's always best to start at the beginning and all you do is just follow the yellow brick road...”  We will start at the beginning – plumbing first, then electrical, close the walls, complete the floor, decorate, etc.  We will learn what we need in order to perform the work necessary.  It’s awkward and strange, but with some planning and vision, ideally, we will minimize mistakes and costly blunders.  I’m sure they will happen and our learning curve will be steep.  And for the time being, I’m sure the boys won’t mind showering in the garden hose or bathing in the pool (though not my wife’s preferred plan).  

I’ve begun to look at distance learning and our current situation as a renovation.  When we left school on March 13th, our day-to-day was gutted.  Over the last ten weeks we have learned a tremendous amount about our routines, work, friends, family, life, humanity, and perhaps most revelatory, ourselves.  At first, we scrambled to find a way to keep the “old way” intact, but have since come to the realization that we can’t– at least for a while.  We have begun to put back the pieces of our day-to-day.   They look different, and that’s ok; we’re just not used to it yet.  Hopefully we will get there, and hopefully things will continue to change for the better.  Afterall, a renovation means to restore to a former, yet better, state.  I continue to remain optimistic for life and school after quarantine.

Again, I hope this message finds you safe and well.  I hope this long weekend provides you with some rest, relaxation, and recuperation.  The weather feels like Memorial Day weekend is really here, and I know that I will try my best to be outside all three days and not stuck in the bathroom.        

Stay safe.  Stay calm. Stay positive.

Be well,

John Fink                   


May 15, 2020

Dear Carmel High School Families –

As the sun sets on our 9th week of school closures and distance learning, the staff at CHS hopes everyone is safe and well.  Each week I have been reaching out to all of you with a message of hope and support in an effort to remain positive.  This week, I am going to take a bit of a different approach and share some updates and informational items that are happening in our Carmel High School Community.

Food and Technology Distribution – Both take place from 10am – 12pm on Mondays at GFMS.  Food distribution is held around the back of the building by the cafeteria while laptop distribution takes place in the main entrance.  If you are in need of a laptop, please email and you will be contacted to schedule an appointment. NOTE: Due to Memorial Day, Tuesday, May 26th will be a food and technology day at GFMS.

Student Building Access – A survey was sent to all students via email asking them about their need for building access.  The survey was scheduled to close at 5pm today, however, we will leave it open through the weekend in case there are any last-minute submissions.  Once we gather the information from the survey, we will schedule days and times for grade levels to access the building and gather their belongings.  There will be limits on the number of students in the building at one time and every student will be required to wear a mask.  We will share more about this once we finalize the details which should be sometime next week. 

Returning School Belongings – We recognize that many students need to return items that belong to the school.  Students were asked about these items in the student survey.  We are working on a plan for collection of textbooks, library books, camera and video equipment, music equipment and instruments, sports equipment and uniforms.  We will likely have collection dates and times set-up for the 1st and 2nd week of June so that students and families can bring items to the school parking lot and drop them off without having to enter the building. 

Medication Pick-up – Our nurses are working on a plan to have medications that were left in the nurse’s office available to be picked-up.  We will try to coordinate and combine times with other events so that students and families make fewer trips to the school. 

Distance Learning Calendar - As stated in the grading email that was shared previously, the last day of distance learning for seniors will be June 5th with their final exams being given from June 8th -10th.  Similarly, the last day of distance learning for underclassmen is June 12th with their final exams being administered from June 15th – 17th.  Days surrounding these dates will provide opportunities for classes to make-up and review work.

Yearbook Distribution – Unfortunately, the plant that prints our yearbooks was shutdown due to closures.  They have since been able to re-open and our yearbook will be one of the first to be printed.  While we do not have a time frame for delivery of the yearbooks, once we do we will communicate accordingly and hope to coordinate the pick-up of yearbooks when students and families come to the school at other times. 

Class of 2020 Communications and Updates – This past Monday we shared a communication with our class of 2020 and their families.  The Senior Awards program is well underway and still on schedule for the first week of June in a digital format.  We continue to have discussions about graduation, making sure that we can do whatever is possible to host in-person and in Carmel.  We are still awaiting guidance from our elected officials.  Those seniors wishing to participate in the #MyNextStep campaign have until Friday, May 22nd to submit your picture to .

Scheduling for 2020-2021 – Even before school closures, our guidance counselors were hard at work with the scheduling process for next year.  We are happy to report that school closures did not delay our timeframes and processes and we continue to work on student course requests and creating our building schedule.  We have also held several discussions about potential changes to schedules should state restrictions be put in place.  We will be sure to communicate changes if we are faced with different circumstances.

SAT and ACT Dates – For those students who are interested in taking the SAT’s, we have added additional dates for the exam for the 2020-2021 school year, should we be able to administer them.  The dates for the SAT are: August 29th, November 7th, December 5th, March 13th and May 8th.  Please know that we are also looking to add more dates for the ACT exam but have yet to confirm them.  The dates for the ACT exam are: October 24th, April 17th and June 12th

Working Papers – Students who need working papers, please check the CHS website for more information. 

Again, we hope this email finds you all well and safe.  Please stay safe.  Please stay calm.  Please stay positive.

Thank you have a nice weekend.

John Fink


May 11, 2020

Dear Carmel High School Family –

Each week as I write, I hope that these letters connect with every one of you in a way that allows you to reflect and recalibrate under these dramatic circumstances.  Some letters may do so more than others.  I hope last weekend’s weather and this week’s sunshine has your spirits moving in the right direction.  Hopefully the seemingly year-long month of April showers has brought the May sunshine and soon the June warmth (and tonight’s storm is a mere blip).       

Last week I wrote about mile marker 20 and “hitting the wall”.  As always, I received many responses of that echoed my sentiment. Some of you said you hit the wall earlier, and some have yet to hit it.  In all cases, we still keep moving forward, each day, each week, and in some cases, it is a minute by minute experience. 

In another weekly message I referenced the CCSD’s 6Cs; specifically, communication and collaboration.  When I have time to wonder, it’s thought-provoking to think about including other “C” words in this district wide initiative, and so given our circumstances of school closures, I’m campaigning for “Composure”.    

The basis for this campaign stems from the “hitting the wall” reference.  Composure is necessary when the claws of passion, pressure, and then panic (the three Ps) begin to latch on to the steady, good work of the racer.  Sometimes this feels like a sudden grasp and other times like a slow constriction.  Inevitably the three Ps begin to overwhelm and our composure can be lost. 

If we allow that to happen, civility becomes rage, rage becomes reactivity, and reactivity inevitably becomes regret.  I can speak with certainty about this because on several occasions throughout my life, particularly in the last eight weeks, maintaining my composure has been a challenge.  But I know I regret the times that I lose it; particularly with my family.  It is a long-ago life goal I set to not create such regret in my life, and I strive for this daily.

When composure is maintained in spite of the grasp of the three “Ps”, rage and wrath have no foothold. 

Yet, either way, whether we lose our composure or maintain it, we grow and learn.  And, ideally, at some point, we exercise compassion (one of the 6Cs!).  This usually evolves from reflection, a call to action, and an apology, or (at the very least) an acknowledgement to try harder and work more collaboratively (another 6C!).  This is the essence of growth. 

Over the past eight weeks I’m sure (though I wish it weren’t so) your composure has been tested as much as mine; on several fronts.  It’s these times that our inherent creativity, compassion, and resilience need to prevail – not rage, reactivity, and wrath.  So, I challenge and implore you to exercise composure next time a conflict arises, and to reflect on the growth established from the circumstance.  Certainly, school closures have tested our composure, but I am confident our growth from this will establish stronger, more creative, and more deeply compassionate individuals and societies.

Stay safe. Stay calm. Stay positive. And most importantly, Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms in the CCSD Family.

Be well,

John Fink                  


May 1, 2020

Dear Carmel High School Family –

As always, I hope this letter finds you safe and well.  Please know that I hope for many things on a regular basis, but lately and mostly it is that the people that I know and surround myself with (my Carmel Family) are not experiencing struggles or pain.  In reality, I know these exists, but I will always remain optimistic.

Growing up I played some sports -basketball, baseball, and soccer.  I even “participated” in theater productions (by which I mean I was Sandy the dog in the musical Annie.  They threw me a bone…. nothing glamorous).  At one point, I also took some extra ceramics classes, which I loved.  But soon realized that the kiln didn’t love me.            

It was in middle school that I found my love for running.  This love of running carried me through high school where I competed at some of the highest levels.  I learned an incredible amount about myself and others during those four years of competitive running; and one of the take-aways most influential in my life was with regards to stamina.   

While I’ve never been daring enough to run a marathon, it is said that around mile 20 runners begin to hit a wall – a sudden wave of fatigue.  You see, the race is 26.2 miles long and at mile 20 they are more than half way through.  They cannot turn around but the end is still far from view.      

We’ve all faced the wall at one point or another – in a race, a workout, a contest, a production, orchestration, arrangement, or relationship.  We’ve all stared down that wall at one point or another and had to make some tough choices.  But facing that wall, and the choices we make, are what shape us, physically and mentally.

A few months ago, the world was drafted for the COVID-19 marathon.  The list of participants is extensive and nobody was allowed to opt out. We are at the proverbial Mile 20 and many of us may be hitting the wall.     

There is no question in my mind that in this seventh week of school closures I have “hit the wall” – come to far to turn around or quit, and the end seems distant; especially so after today’s announcement by the governor.  I have spoken to many fellow runners who are feeling the same.  I have spoken with others who lost teammates or are helping teammates who are struggling. 

At this point for me, and I hope for you, giving up is not an option.  I believe that not only do we owe it to ourselves to keep running this marathon, but we owe it to those who need us to help them, those who can no longer run with us, and for those essential workers who put themselves in the ultra-marathon (100 miles!) each day.  There is no question in my mind that the individual and collective strengths we achieve through this process will make us more resilient, increase our stamina, and produce a stronger, more determined society. 

Please be safe and please push on.  Please stay positive and please stay calm.  And please, never, ever, give up.

Be well,

John Fink


April 24, 2020

Dear Carmel High School Family –

As we finish week six of school closures, it’s hard to believe that we are in late April.  The weather has not been cooperating.  In fact, if you recall, last Saturday it was SNOWING!!  I continue to think about and pray for all our Carmel families’ health, safety, and well-being.  …And honestly, for some sun and warmth.           

I mentioned the weather above because of how much my family and I love the warm weather.  And we are longing for a “break” from the cold and bleak.  I can remember back to early March, while we were still in school, and the weather was sunny and warm for a day or so – unusual for that time of the year.  The “break” in the weather back then had spirits high and people feeling optimistic.  It’s no secret that weather patterns have a direct relationship to our mental state of mind – but we do not have to let it dictate us.  My wife is desperate to sit on the deck and have her early morning coffee with the sounds of the world waking up… but for now, she sits and watches the sun and birds through the window.

This week I read an article that spoke about accepting the reality we are living in, looking to the future, and making long-term plans despite the circumstances of the pandemic.  This purposeful planning allows us to take what control we can over our lives despite living in a situation which we don’t have much control over.  Loss of control can cause stress, anxiety, fear, and sadness for many; future planning is a way to appreciate the now and build towards the future we want.  It is a way to take back and to take action, instead of letting the circumstances we are in drive our whole lives.

Much like the weather is out of our control, this pandemic and many factors that surround it are as well.  Again, this does not make us powerless.  In fact, just the opposite.  We still have the ability to make choices, make plans, and make decisions. This is within our control.  In the short term, tomorrow’s weather looks like it will beautiful all day.  I’m planning some woodwork, house work, and probably a bike ride.  And I know the boys and my wife will be making sure to get outside to do something they like.  My wife loves to garden and the boys like to help both of us.  In the near future, we are making plans for what our summer will look like, as social distancing will likely continue in some form or another.  We are also discussing what this fall and next winter will look like. 

You see, if we don’t make some type of plans, set some goals, we allow ourselves to be victims of circumstances and force ourselves to simply react.  We choose helplessness.  Make a plan.  Make some short- and long-term goals.  Figure out how you can reach them.  If our goals and plans change, that’s ok.  They provide us with the opportunity of hope, and teach us that we are in a constant state of improvement.

I challenge you this week to make goals and plans for both the short and long term with respect to our new normals.  Begin to have conversations with your people about what the future holds under the circumstances and what your day-to-day will look like.  Consider what routines, school, work, family time, and “free time” will look like.  Prepare your mind for this new living.  This will provide you with a sense of control and the ability to act, rather than spending time reacting.  God willing, this will all be over soon, and until it is, you will have taken what charge you can.  I predict this will help diminish the feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, and sadness.  Your feedback about this process is welcomed.

The weather will turn to sun and warmth.  We will be able to be outside more.  I know this because the crocus’, daffodils, and tulips have told me so.  

As always, thank you for reading.  And the responses are always appreciated.

Please stay safe.  Please stay calm.  Please stay positive.


John Fink 


April 23, 2020

Dear Carmel High School Families –

Again, we hope you are all safe and well.  Please know that we continue to understand how difficult these times are for our students, staff and families. 

On Thursday, April 16th, the governor announced school closures will continue through May 15th.  This announcement was unfortunately a confirmation of some tough decisions we have been forced to make. 

At this time, it is necessary for Carmel High School to cancel several key events in our students’ lives.  Junior Prom and Post Prom will be canceled.  Senior Ball will also be canceled.  Senior Awards will not look like it has in the past.  We are currently working on a modified format and will share that separately. 

Please know that we will continue to explore ideas and possibilities for Junior Prom and Post Prom.  However, based on the fluidity of our current situation, we cannot commit to anything at this time.  If an opportunity presents itself, we will work to capitalize on that.   

With respect to graduation, we are still brainstorming and having discussions in order to make it a special event for our seniors.  We will make announcements about our plans as we have more concrete information to share.    

We are also looking at ways to distribute yearbooks, especially to our seniors.

We understand this is not great news to read about and please understand that we do not take these decisions lightly. We want to host all of these events in their original formats, as much as you want to participate in them. 

As more information comes available, we will communicate that with all of you.  Again, we hope you are all safe and well.     

Stay positive,

CHS Administration


April 17, 2020

Dear Carmel High School Family –

This week marked our 5th week of school closures.  When we departed on March 13th, I can certainly say that I hadn’t imagined we would be out this long, and I had no clue how deep or far reaching this would be.  I continue to pray for the health, safety, and welfare of our community, and beyond. 

We all have interesting backgrounds, and stories to tell.  I enjoy hearing about people’s past experiences, travels, tribulations and triumphs; it has clarified for me how each one of our stories shape who we become.

As I work during these weeks, I sometimes find my mind wandering to easier times, particularly past vacations.  I reminisce on those experiences and look forward to being on our next vacation.  My family and I love being at the beach and my mind often takes me to locales with hot sun, warm sand, and cool waters.  I love to surf, and I’ve been fortunate enough to surf in different locations; all of them are amazing experiences.  (Note: I am no pro surfer; beginner at best – imagine in your mind a sloth swimming.) 

While out on the water, I sometimes catch a great wave, and I ride the crest until it runs ashore – success! (Rare!)  Many times, pounding waves wipe me out, and I get tossed ashore.  In either case, getting back on the board and trying again is imperative. 

During much of my time surfing, I am waiting on an acceptable wave.  When it comes, trying to catch it is not easy.  Timing is everything.  Sometimes the waves just aren’t coming at all.  There is nothing I can really do about that.  Sure, I can paddle around.  I can look for various sets and breaks, but most of the time, if the conditions aren’t right, there’s not much to do about it.  Ultimately in surfing, like all aspects of life, including our current circumstances, there are many factors outside our control.

So here is what I try to remember (corny as it may seem):  a bad day of surfing is still better than just about anything.  For starters, my family is on vacation: together, happy, and often enjoying it with friends.  If I’m trying to surf, I’m on the water and enjoying nature and all that it has to offer.  If the conditions aren’t right, I can sit and enjoy the water, or I can take advantage of other opportunities: playing with my kids, chatting with friends and family, reading, or making new friends and hearing their stories.  Surfing is just one of many activities that I enjoy.     

School closures/working from home has been an interesting wave to say the least.  Some would say a tidal wave.  Maybe a tsunami?  On some days, I’m on top of the wave and crushing it.  Yet, I’ve also been crushed many times in the past few weeks.  Most of the time, I’m waiting; hopeful and anticipating what is to come, trying to read the situation and react as best I can.  And, honestly, sometimes, I’m just holding on.  But I always get back on the board (the computer, or whatever), paddle out (get communications going) and look for the next set or break (opportunities to make life normal). 

What I am trying to say is being patient and operating with so many unknowns is difficult to say the least.  However, this week I am remembering to find enjoyment in making deeper connections with my boys and my wife.  We found a new way to celebrate Easter and our birthdays, and ways to appreciate the new learning they, and we, are experiencing now.  When we’re not totally tubular, we laugh at least that our dogs are really stoked to have us at home all the time.  We are appreciating and accepting that whether we are bailing or in the barrel, we are lucky to be here.

As always, stay safe, stay chill, and stay positive,

John Fink

 Irma and Bridget practicing social dogstancing.

Irma and Bridget are practicing social dogstancing


April 10, 2020

As I write to all of you again, I am thinking about you in your homes: your work habits, your “break” habits, and all the nuances that make life what it is today, given the circumstances we are living in.  I truly hope that you believe what I believe; “This too shall pass.” 

This week marked our first “official” week of distance learning, yet, it feels like it wasn’t new at all.   In the Fink home, we finally established some routines for my wife, the boys, and myself.  These routines have helped significantly.  While at times, we have each had our meltdowns and moments of panic, we are able to rely on each other for calmness, and we center each other in these moments as we look at the big picture together.  We provide each other with the necessary perspective to keep calm. 

Each week after my letter goes out, my email inbox is bursting with replies.  I want to thank everyone who has replied – your responses are awesome and uplifting.   I try to respond to them all with the gratitude I feel in my heart.  The feedback I have received each week has been so positive that it motivates me to keep writing to you all.  I am so grateful to be a part of the Carmel High School family.  Truly blessed.       

To our CHS Students – while I’m not in your homes, I can tell that all of you are working really hard during these difficult times.  Your teachers have provided me with feedback about your performance under this duress.  From reading and writing, to speaking and listening, to hypothesizing and computing, and creating and drafting, your brains are growing in ways that we could not have imagined.  Keep up the great work and get done all that you can – we understand this is all a bit awkward and we are so proud of your efforts.

To our CHS teachers and staff – congratulations for writing the manual on distance education (teaching and learning), and supporting our students during a worldwide crisis.  The outreach that you have established to get your students and families engaged in this process has been monumental.  Thank you for going above and beyond.  However, as I have said before, this is no surprise to me.  You are teachers and staff members of distinction.

To our CHS parents and families – essentially you are learning to fly a plane while it’s in the air.  I have seen so many memes about parenting and homeschooling on social media and through email – pretty much all of them are true.  Regardless of what you might think, you are all doing an AMAZING job.  Be careful about “keeping up with the Jones” (or Kardashians for that matter), because things are not always what they seem. No one is as glamourous or perfect as their Instagram makes them out to be.  We are all struggling (reference my meltdowns and moments of panic above).  Focus on the times when things ARE going right. 

I would be remiss if I did not mention our district leadership and board of education.  Balancing the needs of students, families, and a school district with the constraints of state government is difficult enough during what is considered “regular season.”  Now add in the issue of a global pandemic, when decisions are being made (and often changed) daily by state and federal leaders.  I think both groups have done an outstanding job keeping our district informed and moving forward.  Again, there is no manual to follow right now and their wisdom and guidance has provided valuable light in some dark times.

Words cannot fully summarize my feelings towards the different groups mentioned above and my gratitude for how much effort and hard work everyone is putting in.  I’m so proud to be a part of this community where everyone has banded together to make this the best possible situation.

Keep up the great work Carmel!  We cannot give-up now and there is no turning back.  Our resilience is more powerful than any pandemic.

Be well.  Be safe.  Be calm.  Be positive.

John Fink


April 3, 2020

Dear Carmel High School Family –

After our third week of being out of school, I pray that you are all well.  Also, I hope that calm has become the norm in your household, given the abundance of information that has most certainly saturated your screens and minds. 

Recently, I was asked the question, “Carmel Central School District has adopted the 6Cs.  Which one of the Cs do you feel is the most important?”  My initial response was, “This question is unfair.  It is like asking me to pick which one of my children I love more.”  I then proceeded hedge my answer because I honestly believe it is an impossible question.  I responded, “Communication and collaboration”.

Given the current climate and the eruption of distance learning and working, communication has become a totally different animal to me, as I’m sure it has for each of you.  The barrage of text messages and emails on a personal level (family and friends) is its own full-time job.  Making sure everyone is well, has their needs met, and is connected is an intricate and complicated nest of lines of communication. 

Next, for many of us, add the layer of being a parent and all the levels of communication that are occurring as we look after our children’s wellbeing as students and their emotional preparedness. 

All of this is on top of working a full-time job and the necessary communications that must occur in a timely fashion.  Notice I didn’t even mention being connected to social media, which has also become an entirely different animal.  Overwhelmed does not even begin to capture how I am feeling.  Anxious doesn’t do the job either.  There is no word we have come up with in our home to capture what all of this feels like.  I can’t image what this looks like for our Carmel Families (and beyond) who are first responders – the everyday living heroes amongst us.  

In my first communication two weeks ago, I mentioned “digital distancing”.  This term has taken on a deeper meaning for me.  I have found that I need short breaks from the digital lines which connect me.  As I’m sure you can relate, I could be conceivably be connected 24/7 and still feel like I am not accomplishing all that I need to do or know all that I need to know.  I find these short breaks allow me to clear my head and tackle the communications I’m presented with.  I never want to act irrationally or respond in a manner that is not comforting for the person on the receiving end.  I understand that I must ensure that the communications that I produce are clear, concise, and timely.  What I have learned in these last three weeks is that being comforting, clear, concise, and timely takes time to craft in the various communication methods we are all forced to use now.  And that is ok. 

Taking the time to communicate in these manners and being accurate with our information is of paramount importance.  Just like taking the time to say, in a very meaningful and heartfelt way, “I love you” to someone special.  Having the conviction to take these steps is an exercise in self-control, but one that surly pays dividends in the end.  Meaningful communication is being redefined thanks to COVID-19.  What a wonderful silver lining.

As always, please stay safe, calm, and positive.  We all are longing for the day that our communications are face-to-face, and once again include handshakes, or hugs, or kisses.  It is my hope that these days are not far away.

Together with you,

John Fink


March 27, 2020

Dear Carmel High School Family –

Once again, I am reaching out to touch base with everyone, this time after our second full week without being in school.  Again, I hope that everyone is safe, well and remaining positive as we push through this.

Like so many other things that have occurred over the course of these last two weeks, writing this letter (which was very unnatural last week), now feels natural.  There is a new standard for what is normal.  I write this week, trying to bring some grounding, some sense of normal, to all of us, and the work we are doing in this life we are living. 

Some real time examples of the new norm from my life: working from home is very challenging for me personally.  By nature, I am a social human being – I enjoy being around people, engaged in conversations, collaborating on ideas, and producing work. 

I miss dearly my daily routine like greeting students and staff as they enter the school each morning. 

I miss the personal connections with people that I see and interact with every day. 

I spent some time this week distributing laptops to families in need throughout the district.  During this time, I collaborated with colleagues and saw students and families.  It was incredibly difficult not to shake hands or hug (or “Bro hug”) these people in spite of our established connections.  On my home front, there is a lot of together time going on at the Finks, as I am sure many of you are experiencing as well.  I have a deeper appreciation for the work that goes on in our classrooms every day, as I am relearning second and fifth grade material (whoa), and watching my wife try to engage her freshmen and seniors remotely.  We are getting some projects done and trying to teach the boys valuable skills and life lessons, and doing our best to keep up the good humor.  Some days we limp over the finish line, some days we take the gold, but always, we are grateful to be in this together.

These last two weeks have helped me appreciate even more all that I have and all that WE have.  In this wildly unnatural time, I have been able to see the incredible outpouring of support in our community.  I have seen acts of courage and heroism from and for students, staff, families, and community members.  It leaves me speechless.  I certainly hope this becomes the natural way of life – courage, optimism, and heroism. 

The Governor announced the closing of school through April 15th, yet I feel more inspired than ever.  Because if these great things have occurred in just a short period, I can only imagine what will happen after an extended period.  The strength of our community will prevail. Again, please remain safe, calm, positive, and supportive.  I know it is corny and cliché, but recall the image of the kitten hanging from the rope:  hang in there, and hang tough.   Do not hesitate to reach out to me if I can help.

Stay safe!

John Fink

Hang In There! Cat Retro Motivational Poster - 24x36


March 20, 2020

Dear Carmel High School Family –

I wanted to take some time to touch base with everyone after this whirlwind of a week.  First, I hope that everyone is safe and well.  I hope that everyone is as calm as possible.  And I hope that you are all remaining positive given the unprecedented times we have entered. 

Over the past few days we have experienced major changes in our lives, some good (unexpected time with families) and some – well… different (unexpected time with families).  But over the course of the last few days I have seen some certainties that continue to impress me about our Carmel Community:

  • I have seen teachers, staff, and students connect in ways that I would not have thought possible.
  • I have seen courageous students, families, and staff reach out to different people for different reasons, all for the common good of collaboration for kids.
  • I have seen leadership from all parts of our community in order to make these cloudy times a little bit clearer with respect to our direction for education.
  • I have seen fortitude in the face of fear as we march through so many unknowns about who, what, when, where, why, and how to tackle the problems we face.

Please know that the District is working on plans for moving forward – preparing for the possibility of being out for a longer period of time and what plans will be in place educationally to support our students.  Rest assured, we will communicate all updates as quickly and thoroughly as possible. 

In the meantime, as we have been practicing social distancing, I am encouraging “Digital Distancing.”  Please take some time to put the devices down, turn off the tv, disconnect from social media and some of the platforms that trap us.  Take a walk outside.  Go for a hike.  Read a book.  Play a board game.  Start (and complete!) a puzzle.  Cook.  Do something that will release your mind from the grip of the everyday struggle.  For me, I like to woodwork.  And I like to hike with my family and two dogs.  These mental breaks are necessary for us to stay sharp and focused on our work. 

Again, I hope you all stay safe, stay calm, and stay positive.  Together we have been through many trying times; this will be no different, and this will end.  We will get through this as one and come out on the other side stronger and more resilient. 

Be well,

 John Fink


March 15, 2020

Dear Parents and Students –

Despite the very volatile and fluid situation the Carmel Central School District and CHS has been thrust into with COVID-19 and school closures, the teachers and staff at the high school are prepared to provide our students with on-going learning opportunities to the best extent possible.

Many of our teachers have communicated with their students either in class last week, or have connected with them through email or online. They have provided work already or will email or post work online on Monday. We are encouraging our students and parents to remain connected with their teachers through email during the school closures.

With this said, however, there will be situations that require work to be picked-up from school that is provided by teachers. In this situation, we are asking the teachers to communicate with those families directly instructing them that work should be picked up at school.

In order to facilitate this pick-up, staff will be available at the school on Monday, 3/16 from 12pm to 2pm and on Tuesday, 3/17 from 9am – 12pm. Students and families should come to the library entrance to pick-up work. If you need to come to the school to pick up work, we ask that you social distance yourself from others who may there as well - please remain 8-10 feet from the next person. We also ask for your patience in this distribution of material as we are navigating uncharted territory given the circumstances.

Please be advised, that unless you receive communication from your teacher that work is available to be picked up, you do not need to come to school.

Again, please bear with us as we try and make the best out of terrible situation. Carmel is a community of one, and we will get through this together. Should the situation change, we will communicate as much information as possible and as soon as we can.

Thank you

Grading Process for 2019 2020 School Year

May 7, 2020

Dear Carmel High School Families,

Last week, Governor Cuomo announced that schools throughout New York State will remained closed to in-person learning for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic school year. As a result, the Carmel High School administration and staff have reviewed its grading procedures for the 2019-2020 academic school year.

In conjunction with our distance learning plan, the following amendments have been made to the high school grading procedures:

  • Quarters 1, 2 and 3 will be worth 30% totaling 90% of a student’s final average
  • Quarter 4 will be graded as pass or fail
  • An “optional” final exam will be designated as 10% of the final grade

The final exam, at the teachers’ discretion, can be a project, test, presentation, etc. that students will submit in accordance to the schedule below. The “optional” final exam, provides an opportunity for all students to potentially earn a higher grade than they originally had at the end of the 3rd quarter.

If a student chooses not to participate in the final exam, their grade would then be the average of Quarters 1, 2 and 3 at 33.3% each. We strongly recommend that any student who is in danger of failing at the end of Quarter 3, take the final exam as an opportunity to pass that course for the school year.

Please note, students who are taking a second semester course (3rd and 4th quarter) will have a grade calculation of 90% for Quarter 3 and a 10% final exam. If these students choose to opt out of the final exam, their 3rd quarter grade will result in 100% of that course’s final average.

Please use the chart below as a reference for grade calculation for the 2019-2020 academic school year.






Final Exam (Optional)






Opt-in: 10%






Opt-out: -

Additionally, please know that we have designated the following times for final exams to take place, allow for the grading of those final exams and preparation to have grades ready for the end of the year report cards. 
            Senior Exam Period: June 8th through June 10th.
            Underclass Exam Period: June 15th though June 17th.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email your child’s teacher or grade level administrator.

Thank you and be well,

CHS Administration

Dear CHS,,,

Here Comes the Sun